The division races in the American League are pretty much all decided by this point. The White Sox have a massive 11 game lead over Cleveland and tomorrow they can win their first division title since 2005. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay and Houston have comfortable (but not entirely insurmountable) tours in their respective divisions, but this AL Wild Card race should make for a really fun final baseball weekend of the regular season.
Boston, Toronto and New York are competing for the chance to see each other in the wild card game. Starting today, the Red Sox and Blue Jays are scheduled for this game, but the Yankees are just 1.5 games behind second wild card and it wouldn’t be late September without the A chasing another wild card would, just two games behind Toronto. Seattle isn’t dead yet, but they’re likely a long range shot at this point as they only have four games behind them. Stranger things have happened, however.
How, you know … that:
Never tell them the odds. pic.twitter.com/RbfmOarXlw
– MLB (@MLB) September 20, 2021
The Wild Wild (NL) West features Kris Bryant and the Giants leading the Dodgers with just one game in the most fun divisional race to watch the rest of the way. The Padres are a whopping 20.5 games back in NL West. Yikes The Brewers have all but banned NL Central at this point, and the Braves are leading the Phillies back with just two games with the dysfunctional Mets 5.5 games.
With the near 100-victory Dodgers (or Giants) owning one of the two NL Wild Card spots, we have a fascinating battle for the last NL postseason berth between the Cardinals, Reds, Phillies and Padres. Like the Blue Jays in the AL, the Cardinals were dead in the water with a 2.8% chance of reaching the playoffs on September 7th. That was only 13 days ago! Baseball is wild, man.
And in case you missed it while the Padres are dreaming in October, tensions are starting to rise.
Yikes: Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr. got into the Padres Dugout – https://t.co/aZMT1D416R pic.twitter.com/iqqTfeJvbe
– Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) September 19, 2021
Pitch clock experiment
Jayson Stark wrote a somewhat shockingly successful experiment with pitch clocks in the minor. Personally, I don’t have a problem with the length of ball games, but it’s a legitimate problem when it comes to marketing the game to the next generation of fans (Michael: And of course the tempo of the game is an important, perhaps more correctable problem).
And if a pitch clock can shorten playing times, improve the pace and even increase the overall offensive, then sign up in the interests of the future of baseball as a whole.
New Column from Me: Can This Minor League Baseball Music Box Fix This Music Box?
Average Playing time: 21 minutes less!
Dead time: over
“This is the most exciting development I’ve ever seen in terms of the game.” Https://t.co/nBjhQNAgOc
– Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) 17.09.2021
Mets President of the Baseball Ops Gig
I’ve made fun of the padres who fell on their faces this season after being crowned offseason champions, but there’s seriously no more dysfunctional team in baseball right now than the New York Mets. The Mets have had three general managers since November 2020 and four managers since 2017. So, understandably, they set their goals pretty high when it comes to finding their next top baseball ops boss.
Mets aim very high for their open job as baseball president, so their short list is very short: Bille Beane, Theo Epstein, David Stearns (and maybe one or two others).
– Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) September 19, 2021
A package that would work for the Mets: The A’s Beane and Melvin. Column: https://t.co/NA1oun4XAj
– Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) 17.09.2021
Ken Rosenthal wrote in his latest column in the Athletic that Billy Beane was a potential match for Queens, and Jon Heyman recently noted that Theo Epstein and David Stearns are also ideal candidates.
They say money doesn’t solve all problems, and in fact Steve Cohen simply can’t cure the toxicity and dysfunction that has been rampant in the Mets front office for years. He could, however, take a giant step in the right direction by pelting a bunch of money at any of the above candidates who have been shown to clean up other people’s mess.
If Cohen wants to land one of these guys, it’s going to cost him a lot of money.
The Kohei Arihara era in Texas has stalled less than a season after the two-year deal he signed last off-season. Mark Polishuk has the financial data perfectly set out in his story about Arihara’s DFA at MLB Trade Rumors.
Arihara was the Rangers’ largest free agent spending in the 2020-21 offseason, as Texas received a total of 7.44 million US $ 1.24 million of that money for a posting fee to the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters (Ariharas NPB Club ) while Arihara was earning a $ 6.2 million salary himself – $ 3.6 million this season and $ 2.4 million in 2022. Now it looks like something like sunk costs for the Rangers as it seems quite unlikely that another team would cover these costs by using Arihara waivers. If Arihara signed a minor league contract elsewhere, a new team would owe him only a fraction of a minimum wage, and leave Texas on the hook for the rest of the money.
Arihara only started 10 games for the Rangers and has a whopping 6.64 ERA.
A great Mark Appel thread
Remember when the Houston Astros beat Mark Appel with an A in the 2013 MLB Draft, allowing the Cubs to take Kris Bryant with the next election? It’s fascinating to see the two stark contrasts in terms of Appel’s and Bryant’s careers after that day, but as Appel tweeted recently, he believes he has more baseball left in his future.
In 2013, I was number 1 overall in the MLB Draft.
5 years later I was called “the biggest bust in MLB history”.
Today I’m working my way back and I’m here to share the hard-earned lessons I learned along the way🧵👇
– Mark Appel (@ markappel26) 17.09.2021
Making a comeback to professional baseball at 30 seems like a significant stretch, especially considering he has an ERA north of six in his 44.1 innings with the Phillies Triple-A. Other than that, I only wish him the best. I will never trample anyone who is chasing their dreams.
Bits and pieces:
• White Sox fans will remember Anthony Gose from his time as a midfielder with the Detroit Tigers and they may see him again this week when they visit Cleveland. This time, however, he will come from the Cleveland Bullpen and not play in midfield. After the 2016 season, Gose switched positions and has finally returned to the majors.
The story of Anthony Gose transitioning from a major league midfielder to a helper with a 100 mph fastball:
Gose is promoted today by Triple-A Columbus. He hasn’t allowed a run in a month. https://t.co/672hyD8wFY
– Zack Meisel (@ZackMeisel) September 20, 2021
• The American League may have some problems with the White Sox’s final healthy line-up in October (Michael: Okay, okay, Patrick … just take it with us;).
In 2021 Robert / Anderson / Grandal / Jiménez / Moncada / Abreu played together a total of three times.@White socks are 3-0. 11.3 runs per game.
– Jason Benetti (@jasonbenetti) September 20, 2021